Past Programs

2018 Inaugural Symposium

A key goal of the symposium was to bring together an audience from across disciplines to foster deeper understanding.

Our first symposium in April, 2018, drew over 400 leading journalists, peacebuilders, thought leaders and funders to the New York Times Center. The daylong Symposium put storytelling about peace efforts front and center in order to challenge the prevailing narrative about how the world deals with conflict. Our primary goal was to encourage greater reporting on peace efforts, diplomacy and nonviolent resistance around the world and to inspire a wider range of approaches to conflict reporting.

Audience Breakdown

  • Journalists 34%
  • Student Journalists 22%
  • Peacebuilders 19%
  • Media 7%
  • Editors 1%
  • Foundation Officers 8%
  • Organizers & Assistants 9%

“I [left] with a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding reporting on conflict and peace building… [and] a hopeful feeling that there are many people working in the right directions.

Highlights

A key goal of the symposium was to bring together an audience from across disciplines to foster deeper understanding.

  • A keynote on the impact of war by Sebastian Junger, best selling author, award winning producer and journalist
  • A conversation with Alexis Okeowo, journalist and author and recent winner of the PEN/Open prize in literature
  • Moderated panel discussions with key peacebuilders and journalists who have worked on or reported from international conflicts
  • An opportunity for journalists to secure funding for stories about peace through a competition organized in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

Thank you so much, War Stories Peace Stories, for giving me such a unique opportunity to connect and learn from other journalists. This was definitely the best journalism symposium I have ever attended.

Featured Panels

Telling and Not Telling the Story

Moderator: Mort Rosenberg
Panelists: Heba Aly, Anna Therese Day, Mike Jobbins, and Scott Stearns

The panel began with a question posed by Mort Rosenberg, “Where would we be today if journalists, humanitarians, peacebuilders, and non-governmental actors had worked in closer touch?” The panel responded touching on a number of topics:

  • Heba Aly spoke about the oversimplification and misrepresentation of the root causes of conflict can impact policy decisions in a negative way and to counter that, journalists have a responsibility to report the full story in all its complexity.
  • Ana Therese Day spoke of the dangers journalists and reporters face when covering stories about crimes and conflict and in spite of the danger, she is seeing positive things that give her hope: people working hard to make their lives and their countries a better place, while facing violence we can barely imagine.
  • Mike Jobbins spoke on how the news coverage of Libya completely misses how life continues to go on during conflict. By not paying attention to the few positive things going on, we are missing important opportunities to build on to help reduce the violence. As a peacebuilder, he would like to see more stories that “painted what is possible.”
  • Scott Stearns says we are missing the commonality and community that exists in developing countries, because frontline reporters ignore it. Local reporters are important contributors because they are closest to the story, but unlike international reporters, they have no place to go when something goes wrong.

Who is telling the Story and Whose Story Are We Telling?

Moderator: Zainab Salbi
Panelists: Anastasia Taylor-Lind, Christina Aisquith, Passy Mubalama, Jacqueline O’Neill, and Karishma Vyas

  • This panel focused on gender issues in news reporting. Men comprise about three-fourths of the guests booked to discuss foreign policy and national security on American prime-time cable and top Sunday news shows. What do we lose by not including more women’s voices? And what do we gain when we listen to the people who live in conflict zones?
  • The panelists touched on the disparity between how many stories are about men and written by men, the number of men photojournalists to women, the number of male obituaries to those of women, how men are portrayed as active while women are presented as passive and the amount of backlash or trolling women face when they speak up compared to men. Additionally, women are the ones who continue to keep life going in conflict. One way to change the narrative is to target news editors to include more women as they are the gatekeepers to what makes the news.

Moving Forward: Re-imagining Conflict Reporting as a Force for Change

Moderator: Laurie Hayes
Panelists: Daniel Beaulieu, Tina Rosenberg, Jon Sawyer, Reza Sayah, and Nahal Toosie

  • This panel tied various threads of the day together and shined a light on organizations already rethinking conflict reporting and offer unique approaches covering crises. The discussion began with an introduction to the work done at News Deeply, Solutions Journalism Network, The Pulitzer Center, and What Works at Politico. Following the introductions of work, the panelists discussed a variety of topics including: the need to cover stories that address solutions to problems, not just the problems, the need to bring this message about covering peace to editors, and news coverage is oversimplified, while telling peace stories well requires a deeper look at the full range of options available and the role of a wider variety of actors.

“The [symposium] helped me to understand the importance of alliances between peacebuilding initiatives and independent journalism.